A central part of having a healthy home life is making sure you focus on nutrition in your kitchen. That means having the necessary items, equipment, and food at the ready. People end up complaining that they don’t eat right, but they don’t start by getting all of the needed items set in their home environment. That always ends up being a problem. [Read more…]
Lasagna is a great meal for anyone that likes things like pizza and pasta. Much like pizza, there are many things you can do with lasagna to change things up. While traditionally it’s just lasagna noodles, mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese and some burger, you can swap out any and all of these ingredients and make a lasagna that will amaze your whole family (and taste great).
Make sure that you don’t go too think on the cheese. This can be a choking hazard for some, and if you’re eating alone and have a habit of having eating issues you may want to consider investing in a medical alert device. [Read more…]
You may sometimes worry about the dangers of kitchens in restaurants, but how often do you think about the dangers in your own home kitchen. Even if your are bleaching your counters on a daily basis your kitchen can still be a toxic place. You may not need to worry about lawsuits from your own family if someone in your home gets food poisoning, but you still want to make sure that you are creating a healthy environment in your home, and in your kitchen. [Read more…]
The best chefs and cooks are absolutely passionate about their knives; everyone seems to have their favorite, and internet forums are filled with discussions pitting knife brand against knife brand, Western vs Asian, one knife vs a collection, and so on.
Chinese chefs often use one knife- the cleaver- for everything. And we mean everything! Use the sharp end for cutting, flip it over and use the top edge to tenderize meat, then lay it flat and use its side to crush garlic in record time. What’s also wonderful about the Chinese cleaver is its weight, which makes for less hand fatigue during all the prep-work required for Asian cuisine.
But time and time again, professionals are naming Japanese knives as their favorites. Last year, six of the country’s top chefs- including April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig and Top Chef Season 4 Winner Stephanie Izard- were asked what their choice of knife was, and they all chose Japanese.
So what is it that sets Japanese knives apart?
Consider, first, the cuisine these knives were created for: Japanese dishes are clean in both taste and presentation, and often the most precise cuts are necessary. The classic Santoku-style knife is sharper and thicker than typical Western knives, and sports a blade that’s straighter rather than curved. After the second world war, Japanese cuisine began to reflect more Western influence- and Japanese kitchen tools adapted as well, finally evolving, in more recent years, to the Gyutou knife.
The Gyutou may be said to feature the best of both worlds, highlighting Japanese sharpness and precision as well as the lightness of Western tools. One of our favorites is the Hammered Damascus Knife by Yoshihiro Cutlery with a double-edged blade. Food and Wine has also featured a wonderful list of top quality Japanese knives.
Amazing knives are just one of Japan’s contributions that have been embraced by the world. Lately, the country has been in the news as the topic of comfort women has been discussed more widely, especially in light of the Korean War comfort women to the US military filing a lawsuit against their own government.
Learning to speak a foreign language can be difficult. It is not unheard of as a strategy to incorporate the learning of a skill with language learning. Learning Thai or German or French or any other foreign language can be made a lot easier when taught in conjunction with a cooking class for example.
So let us see why learning Thai can be a lot easier through a cooking class.
Removes the Pressure
A classroom atmosphere all throughout can put much pressure on students learning a new language. When there is much pressure, there is always the tendency for actual learning to suffer. Infusing the element of fun removes the focus on the hard task of sentence structures. Most would agree that learning to cook foreign cuisine is enjoyable and interesting.
Targeting Two in One
A Thai class on cooking will not fail to target as well the study of the language. As cooking instructors explain the ingredients and the procedure, there will be a need to provide the English translation and equivalent. In this way, the learning of both the language and the cooking skill occurs in one effort. The phasing of learning is much faster since it is being done while performing an actual task. The power of association is very strong as foreign words are related to specific things or actions.
Shared Teaching Technology
The advances in teaching technology of one can be shared and applied to the other. As more and more people are losing their drive to learn a foreign language, there is a corresponding need to encourage them to learn. A good example of this is online learning. We know for a fact that online learning has made it possible to learn from home and not be bothered with having to ensure physically attending a class. At the end of the day, it will all boil down to how strongly motivated people are with learning.
Some would rather learn in a straightforward manner in school. Others do so with a little bit of entertainment and fun. The important thing is that options are available when needed. Not everybody will start and end on the same level of language learning.
Feeding picky eaters can be especially trying and frustrating. This is more so with children because of the fear that they will not be getting the right amount of nutrients to allow them to grow strong and healthy. But do you know that there are at least five food items that even the pickiest eater will love?
Selective eating or that which characterizes the eating habits of picky eaters can range from mere dislike of food from the taste or aroma to the extreme kind. The latter can be akin to repulsion for certain kinds of food or food in general which is a serious medical condition. For purposes of this post, we shall identify five food items that can be served to regular picky eaters without fear of rejection.
Since being selective is rooted on some pre-exiting notion or experience about a certain food characteristic, it would always be best to start with basic food items that can be prepared in any way required. These food items allow easy adjustment of flavor, texture, and aroma. This can also solve the dilemma when there is more than one picky eater in the house. [Read more…]
It has always been a food for thought for me why there are so many male professional chefs and yet dads taking charge of home kitchens are still somewhat of an uncommon wonder. I hate to think that many people would see domestic cooking as inferior to professional cooking. Fortunately, many men now look beyond stereotyping. What results then can we expect from men who have taken on the kitchen challenge?
If you’ve read the post about Superfoods: Yogurt, then you’d be interested to find another superfood that is more than meets the eye.
Honey is often used as a sweetener. Though on its own it’s very versatile, there are still many ways to use honey that doesn’t include a honey dipper.
1. Relieve Dry Skin
Honey is a great moisturizer. Mix some of it with eggs and flour and you’ll have a gentle moisturizer that would be safe for those with sensitive skin. It can be used as a face mask, body or hand lotion. Honey can also help with dry elbows. After taking a bath and scrubbing, rub some honey to soften the skin covering the elbows. Wait for thirty minutes, then simply rinse it off. It’s even great for dry lips! Just add some beeswax and almond oil and you have your own natural lip balm.
2. Remove Pimples
A generous helping of honey can also clear away acne. If you are experiencing a zit attack, simply apply some on the affected area and cover with adhesive bandages. Constant exposure to honey can quickly fade pimples. It’s a gentle and effective way to clear acne.
3. Kill Parasites
If you’re suffering from worms or other parasites, then you should be reaching for a jar of honey and some vinegar. Mix water, honey and vinegar together to create a homemade parasite killer solution. When you suspect that you may have unwanted intruders in your body, regularly down ample amounts of this solution. The acidity of the vinegar as well as the therapeutic effects of the honey would clear your system right away.
4. Makes Hair Beautiful
Honey can easily get rid of fizz and give your hair a shiny and healthy look. For eliminating fizz, add some honey to the tips of your hair after you shower. Leave it on for a few minutes and rinse. For a shinier do, mix one teaspoon of honey with water and pour it over your head after washing. Let it dry.
With concern about sustainability becoming more and more of an issue and a cause for many people, consumers are now becoming more conscious about the stuff that they buy in the supermarket. This is most prevalent when it comes to seafood. Consumers are now becoming more aware about the damage that is being done by overfishing for the sake of making profits. A number of fish species that are now being negatively affected by overfishing and the fears are quite real that if it is not curtailed, many fish species will become endangered or even become extinct. These include seabass, various flatfish like halibut and flounder, salmon, and tuna. [Read more…]
I wanted to continue my post, Herbology: Know Your Herbs (Part 1), with three more basic herbs used in cooking. This isn’t a comprehensive nor detailed list. But I think it’s important to show everyone what these herbs look like fresh from an herb garden. Feel free to do your own research and find out more about these herbs. For now, let me introduce you to Oregano, Tarragon and Thyme.
Usually found in Mediterranean and Mexican cooking, oregano has an aromatic flavor that goes well with pizza, mushrooms and salad dressings. It’s best added at the end of the cooking process to preserve its taste and flavor. Whenever possible, buy oregano fresh as that would give the most flavor.
This herb is an integral part of French cooking. It’s also great to add to fish, egg and chicken dishes. Countries like Armenia, Russia, Georgia and Ukraine use tarragon to flavor their carbonated drinks. If you steep some fresh springs in vinegar, you have your very own Tarragon vinegar. This seasoning is also predominately used in French cooking.
Thyme is a great herb to add to bean or vegetable dishes. It has a fragrance that is easily recognizable. Aside from its flavor, thyme is used for its iron and manganese content. Cook thyme for sauces and soups. Just remember to add them later on since heat can deteriorate its taste. Feel free to sprinkle some sprigs of thyme over the poaching liquid if you’ll be poaching some fish.
We all know food nourishes the body, but there are also some foods that nourish the mind. Everyday, your brain requires up to 20% of the energy supplied by food. That means, the more you eat the more your brain can function. But , of course, there are certain types of food that can make your brain work better.
1. Coffee – The caffeine contained in coffee has been found to enhance short term memory and prevent problems caused by ageing. So, in the morning, don’t be afraid to reach for that cup of coffee. Just be sure not to overdo it as caffeine may mess with your sleeping patterns and this can wreak havoc on your noggin.
2. Blueberries – This delicious fruit is capable of a whole lot when it comes to your brain. For one, it can improve long term memory. The antioxidants found in blueberries are also said to prevent damage from free radicals.
3. Mixed nuts – Reach for that bag of mixed nuts next time you feel the need for a brain boost. Nuts like walnuts, peanuts and almonds have enough brain building power to last you a lifetime. You get anything from memory enhancers, insomnia fighters and omega-3 fatty acids in one handful of mixed nuts.
4. Salmon and Mackerel – Speaking of Omega-3, salmon and mackerel pack a whole lot of those as well. These fatty acids are the basic building blocks of brain tissue so they are great for increasing your brain’s thinking capacity. Plus, salmon has been found to fight off Alzheimer’s and other age-related brain disorders.
So next time you feel sluggish and need to work on a term paper or business report, put down that energy drink and those sugary delights and grab a cup of coffee and some nuts. You need all the brain power you can get.
Cholesterol, the dreaded word for dieters and those with heart conditions. We’re often told to stay away from foods high in cholesterol in order to lose weight and keep our bodies healthy. Well, saying all cholesterol is bad would be wrong. LDL or low density lipoprotein is the ‘bad’ cholesterol which you should be avoiding while HDL or high density lipoprotein is believed to remove plaque in your arteries. So in short, aim for more HDL and keep LDL away from your diet.
Eggs vs Oatmeal
In deciding which breakfast food to wake up to, choose oatmeal over an omelette. Eggs can contain up to 200mg of cholesterol. This is bad considering the recommended daily dose of cholesterol should be 300mg/day. Oatmeal, on the other hand, is high in soluble fiber which lowers your LDL numbers by reducing the amount of cholesterol absorbed in your bloodstream.
Steak vs Fish
Eating just one 4-ounce portion of steak can take up to 22% of your daily cholesterol intake. Not to mention the large amounts of saturated fat in each bite. Instead of chowing down on some meat, choose a nice serving of fish. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids which are heart-healthy and can reduce your blood pressure and the risk of blood clots.
Walnuts vs Chips
When it comes to snacks, a handful of fries or chips doesn’t seem like a big deal. In truth, the amount of trans fat in certain snacks can turn them into high-cholesterol foods. Instead, grab a bad of walnuts or almonds. Walnuts have polyunsaturated fatty acids which are great in keeping blood vessels healthy. Just stay away from nuts coated with sugar or those that are salted.
Indulging in meat, eggs and chips may be alright once in a while but make it a point to balance out your diet with some heart-friendly dishes as well.
After dealing with some essential herbs in one of my previous posts (Herbology Part 1), I thought it would be helpful to take a look at spices. Spices come from all over the world and can be made from almost every part of a plant. In this post, I’ll be highlighting some common spices that are made from a plant’s seeds.
ANISE or ANISEED
This aromatic spice is most commonly used to sweeten things up in the kitchen. It has a distinctive flavor, reminiscent of licorice. Anise is sometimes used in Indian cuisine in their braised dishes and pilafs. It’s also used to give cookies and cakes that added sugary taste.
More popular in European cooking, caraway seeds have an interesting taste that you’d either love or hate. They are best used on pork and other fatty meats and are added to rye bread. You may also opt to sprinkle some over salads, cream cheese on breads, and coleslaw.
- Another sweet spice, nutmeg is often used in eggnog, pumpkin pies, custards and alike. But, it’s also versatile enough to be added to curry mixes. It is better when freshly grated though it is sold in its ground form. If you want a stronger flavor to your savoury meat dishes, substitute nutmeg for black pepper. Use nutmeg sparingly, though, as too much of the spice can cause nausea and stomach pains.
Everyone knows to check any processed food’s Nutrtion Labels for facts about the product. But, does everyone know what those numbers and facts actually mean? All the figures can be confusing to the casual reader. Here’s a few simple tips on how to read the nutritional facts and make these numbers work for you and your diet.
1. The first thing you should check out is the Serving Size and Servings per Container. This tells you how to calculate the total amount of fat, calories, sodium, etc. that there actually is. For some people, they just look at the amount of calories on the label and think that if they eat the whole pack then this number is all the calories they would be consuming. This is a common mistake. The values on the Nutritional Label are the amount of a certain component per serving. A bag of chips may contain as much as 3 to 4 servings. This means you should multiply all values by 3 or 4, depending on how many servings per container there are.
2. The Percent Daily Value is usually calculated for a 2,000 calorie diet. This means that for an average person who takes in around 2,000 calories a day, this is the percent of fat, sodium, etc of the total recommended amount that they would be ingesting. For an active person or a growing adolescent (who may have a 2,500 calorie intake) these values are different.
3. Fat, Sodium, Cholesterol, Sugar are important components you should be paying attention to. For those who are on a strict sugar-free, low sodium, low cholesterol or fat-free diet, should look at these values closely. Total fat is distributed among trans fat, saturated and unsaturated fats. Trans and saturated fat should be relatively low values.
Now that you know these three essential facts, you can get more out of Nutritional Labels. Just remember not to be too obsessed with the numbers and try to balance out your diet for a healthier lifestyle.
Did you know that the color of the food you eat can tell you just what it contains? Barring foods that have food coloring, the hue of a particular fruit or vegetable can give you insight to how it’s going to benefit your body.
Red – Food that has the ruby coloring owes its appearance to either lycopene or anthocyanins. The former is found in tomatoes, watermelons and papayas. This phytochemical is being studied for its anti-cancer potential which works best against lung, prostate and stomach cancer. For other red fruits like strawberries and cherries, anthocyanins are responsible for their red color. Anthocyanin is a great antioxidant.
Yellow/Orange – Food with a yellow or orange color are most likely full of carotenoids. These natural pigments can help improve the immune system as well as lower the risk for heart-related ailments. Citrus fruits (oranges and lemons) are great sources of Vitamin C while Beta-carotene rich foods like sweet potatoes and pumpkins are filled with Vitamin A.
Green – When your mother told you to eat your greens, she was doing so because of their many benefits. Green leafy vegetables contain lutein, a chemical which works with xeanthanin (found in eggs, corn, peppers, etc) to keep your eyes healthy, and folate, a B vitamin that can prevent birth defects when eaten by pregnant women. Indoles in cruciferous vegetables are also great in preventing certain types of cancer.
Blue/Purple – Fruits that are colored blue or purple also contain large amounts of anthocyanins. These pigments were found to have great potential in battling against cancer, diabetes, bacterial infections and inflammation. They may also possess analgesic and neuroprotective properties.
For those just starting out learning how to cook or for those who had just got bitten by the foodie bug, herbs can be a confusing part of the culinary world. These green sensations can look the same to the naked eye but each has their own flavor and can do different things for a particular dish. Here’s a starter’s guide to the world of herbs:
This herb is most known for its part in Pesto. Basil is commonly used in Mediterranean dishes. Use the basil leaves to flavour fish, meat and vegetable dishes or soups. It has a very strong flavor which intensifies with cooking.
If you’re wondering what Chives are and don’t recognize the picture, then imagine the strands chopped into small rings. These are usually added to foods because of its onion-like taste. Add them to soups, salads and stews but add them at the very last moment to preserve its flavor.
Also known as cilantro, coriander is a staple herb in most Asian and Indian dishes. The leaves are best added to poultry dishes, soups and vegetable stir-fry. Just be sure to buy fresh coriander leaves as the dried variety lacks flavor. Its seeds are an important ingredient in chutneys and curries.
This herb is used a lot in Middle Eastern cuisine especially in tabouleh, falafel and chickpea dishes. If you’ve ever come across a recipe that calls for persillade, then you’d be needing chopped parsley and garlic ins 50-50 mixture and a handful of breadcrumbs. This is usually called for in meat dishes.
If you love roasts then Rosemary is the herd for you. This herb goes well with roast potatoes, roast lamb and any roast fowl. You can also use the herb for its great aroma. Be careful to remove the leave after cooking and before serving.
There are major differences to standalone and fitted electric cookers. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Careful consideration of these will help the consumer to make the best purchase for his or her kitchen.
Stand alone cookers
Standalone electric cookers have the obvious advantage of having an oven as well as three or four burners. Some models have interchangeable parts, such as a griddle, grill or regular burners. This allows great versatility in the kitchen.
Slow cooking ovens, induction ovens and fast cooking ovens are all available choices for the consumer. Some models incorporate both slow and regular cooking ovens in one model. [Read more…]
Being able to cook for you other half is always a good thing to be able to do – it’s cheaper than eating out, the both of you can get involved if wanted and you can have much more fun too!
If you’re trying to impress a new beau, or cooking a classic dinner for an old flame then look no further; these meal ideas will be a sure-fire hit, regardless of your ideal outcome!
For the rest of this week, there’s going to be a few different posts going up on different menus – based around the time taken to cook (i.e., last minute ‘oops I forgot’ menu or big and extravagant), the different ingredients and level of cooking skill required, so hopefully there’ll be something for everyone.
Some of the menus will have a slightly modern twist – not everything has to be candles and soft music after all! For best results, practice the dishes before you serve it, so that you can make sure that there are no hidden surprises, and that you’ll like the tastes and textures that are in the meal. And, of course, so that you can seem much more confident whilst explaining how you lightly glazed the vegetables before roasting them, or how you marinated the meat for two or three hours to improve the flavours, textures and aromas in the dish.
Photo Courtesy of: jonathanb1989
We have been so used to buying ketchup in the supermarket. There are a lot of products that taste well, but wouldn’t it be great to make your own? Use this recipe as a guide, but feel free to adjust it to your taste. Add more chili for spicier ketchup or more sugar for a sweeter version.
1 large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 stick of celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
½ of a fresh red chili, seeded and finely chopped
a handful of fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks chopped
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
500g amazing cherry or plum tomatoes, halved plus 500g tinned plum tomatoes, chopped or 1kg yellow, orange or green tomatoes, chopped
200 ml red wine vinegar
70g brown sugar
Remove the tomato skins by submerging the tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute and then plunge them in a bowl of ice water. This will make the skins slide off easily. After peeling, cut them in half and spoon out the seeds. Place them in a sieve and mash them a little with a fork to drain excess water. Save the juice. You can use it for cooking or drink it as juice later on.
In a pot, place the tomatoes and other ingredients. Cook it for 15 minutes or until it becomes thick, stir occasionally. Once it is cooked, strain and remove solid parts. Let it cool before bottling.
*Make sure you sterilize your bottles/jars in the dishwasher or by boiling them in water for 5 minutes.
Photo Courtesy Of: chatirygirl
A basic requirement for many fish-based recipes, this stock is based on a classic recipe, and is very easy to make – it can be used fresh, you could chill it for a day (make sure you bring it to the boil before use), or freeze it for up to six months, so you can make sure you always have enough for whatever you want to cook.
To Make 1.4 Litres
900g Fish Heads, Bones and Tails, without any Gills.
500ml Dry White Wine
1 Onion, thinly sliced
1 Leek, halved, rinsed and chopped
1 Carrot, peeled and sliced
6 Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley Sprigs
1 Bay Leaf
4 Black Peppercorns, lightly crushed
1. Put the Fish trimmings, Water and Wine into a large, heavy-based Saucepan over a medium to high heat, and slowly bring to the boil, skimming the grey foam off the top.
2. When the foam stops being produced, reduce the heat to a very low one, and add the Onion, Leek, Carrot, Parsley, Bay leaf and Peppercorns, before leaving the stock to simmer for thirty minutes, skimming the surface to remove any scum if required.
3. Strain the stock, and discard the solid ingredients.
The stock can be either used straight away, or chilled for a minimum of a day before putting in the fridge – just make sure to bring it to the boil before using in any recipes.
Photo courtesy of: Simps